Acoustical Wood: The Ideal Architectural Noise Solution

Noise control can take a variety of forms. It can be as simple as keeping loud mechanical systems physically far away from areas that are noise-sensitive or heavily populated.

On the other hand, it can also be as complex as fabric wrapping AC ductwork, actively masking sound with white noise and installing acoustic baffles in the ceiling to boot.

But the best acoustic solutions are, without fail, the ones that look and feel intentional. Acoustical wood is the perfect example.

Curved Wood Ceiling Panels

The Science of Acoustical Wood

It may not seem all that intuitive. Wood is a hard surface after all, wouldn’t it just reflect sound rather than reduce it?

The answer is not always. While flat, untreated wood will certainly reflect sound waves and increase the reach of a sound, there are a wide variety of wood products that are specifically designed to deflect, absorb and reduce noise as well.

Not only are they effective at sound control, but they also offer unparalleled design creativity. Almost every application highlighted in this article can be constructed in nearly any size or shape to fit the needs of the space.

Lets take a look at a few examples.

Micro-Perforated Wood

Micro Perforated Wood Ceiling Tiles

Perforated wood is a fantastic example of an attractive, effective wood solution that seamlessly fits in with nearly any space.

With a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) Rating of between 0.75-0.85, it stands up as one of the most effective sound absorption materials out there. Generally used as ceiling or wall applications, micro-perforated wood comes in a variety of finishes, sizes, and perforation diameters to offer ultimate flexibility to designers.

They work by allowing sound to penetrate the perforations in the wood and become absorbed by an acoustical fleece backing. While they can be mounted in a variety of ways, they always provide a clean, attractive look and effective sound dampening.

Acoustical Curved Wood

Curved Acoustical Wood Ceiling
Cherner Residence, Montecito, California, Architecture and Design: Hochhauser Blatter Architects/BHR, Photography: Patrick Price

When ultimate creative license is the priority, curved wood is among the best options on the market for architectural designers.

Curved wood is a completely custom solution with nearly no limits. The acoustic properties of the application will depend on the shape and positioning of the design, however the potential is extensive.

Any curve in a wood structure will provide sound diffusion, which is the scattering of sound waves that results in reduced echo or reverberation in a room. However, the diffusion effect can be augmented significantly to create the exact effect desired depending on the specific design.

Wood designs that feature grooves or gaps like the application pictured above will more effectively trap and scatter sound than more uniformly linear, flat wood surfaces.

Curved wood solutions are an architect’s opportunity to create a totally unique aesthetic for their client that is both iconic and functional.

So Much More

From Open Cell Wood Ceilings, to wood grille bars and walls, there are few acoustic solutions that make an impression as impactful as wood. While it is a hard surface, there are many ways to manipulate it effectively to work as a sound dampener, diffuser, or absorber.

If wood acoustical solutions sound like something you may be interested in including within your space, give Gaus Acoustics a call today for a free consultation.

The Beauty of Affordable Noise Control

There’s a horrible misconception going around that effective, aesthetically pleasing acoustic solutions must be expensive. On the flip side of this flawed idea is the notion that affordable noise control must be ineffective and/or unattractive.

We’re here to set the record straight.

In order to do so, it’s important to look at where this misconception comes from.

Is Noise Control Expensive?

The answer is, it doesn’t have to be. But before we get into that, lets look at why the misconception exists.

When looking around at some of the most well-crafted acoustical spaces, a few examples come to mind. The Opera City Concert Hall in Tokyo, Japan is one of the most iconic visual masterpieces in the world.

The building is absolutely stunning inside and out, and was designed specifically to create the perfect acoustical environment.

Perfect, high end Acoustical Design

The project took over 5 years to design and features a heavy dose of acoustical wood perfectly structured to evenly distribute sound throughout the interior of the hall without any unwanted reverberation, distortion, or quality loss.

While this certainly is an outlier in terms of the extent that acoustics were considered in the design, projects like these often skew the perception of the affordability of acoustical control.

In reality, while there are certainly a variety of examples of expensive noise control, there’s also another side to the story: Beautifully designed, budget friendly acoustical solutions.

Affordable Noise Control

Bringing together affordability, effectiveness, and visual beauty in acoustical solutions is easier than you might think. The good news is that sound control can be implemented anywhere.

We see so many people default to fabric wrapped wall panels when they face a noise problem, in part because they’re budget-friendly, they blend in, and we’ve seen them before.

While these can be effective when used correctly and in conjunction with other equipment, there’s so much more potential when you take a closer look.

Acoustical Ceiling Solutions

The ceiling is a good place to start. Linear Sound Absorbers, for example, are a highly customizable, easily implemented, budget friendly option that can provide a much greater NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) than their wall-mounted friends.

Ceilings and Floors tend to be highly reflective surfaces. They are nearly always made of hard materials that carry sound instead of reduce it. Linear absorbers are a great way to combat that.

They’re made of a highly absorptive foam that drastically reduces the noise levels in a room. And since they cover the entire ceiling rather than just a single point on a wall, the entire space will have a uniform level of noise reduction.

In spaces that don’t allow for the hanging of linear absorbers, acoustically backed metal ceiling tiles are an excellent alternative.

They fit into most lay-in ceiling tile T-Grids without requiring an expensive install, and offer significantly better acoustic performance than standard ceiling tiles. They offer a very clean look across three patterns and a variety of color options, blending into virtually any space.

Specialty Sound Control Solutions

Outside of wall panels and ceiling solutions, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there to solve your space’s acoustic problems.

One great example that is nearly invisible but can be very effective is a sound masking system. Sound masking is essentially a specialty speaker that can be added nearly anywhere to provide unobtrusive white noise that drowns out distracting sounds.

However, if you’re looking for a splash of design along with your noise control instead of equipment that simply blends in, Rondo Suspended Acoustical Baffles is a great option.

Rondo Acoustical Baffles

These foam baffles can be an incredibly versatile design piece as they can be arranged in different shapes, colors, and heights to provide a unique look for your space while also providing really effective noise control.

Endless Possibilities

While the above listed solutions are great examples of budget-friendly noise control solutions, the possibilities are truly endless. From Acoustical Curtains, to door sweeps, to perforated wood, sound control has a variety of faces and can fit into any space.

If you’re ready to take control of your space’s acoustical footprint, contact the experts at Gaus Acoustics today for a free consultation.